Born in Empangeni, in KwaZulu Natal and holding a National Diploma in Travel and Tourism, Cassandra Gayapursat began her journey in the hospitality industry as a receptionist in the Protea Hotel Group back in 2000. Sixteen years later, she is a General Manager at one of the group’s most well-known properties, the 4-Star Protea Hotel Marine in Port Elizabeth.
Business Link magazine (BL) recently chatted to her and this is what we discovered.
BL: What is your typical day like as GM of one of the top establishments in PE?
CG: Let’s start out by saying that no two days are ever alike for a hotel General Manager. Each day starts just before 8am and ends probably just after 6pm. The mornings usually commence with a great cup of coffee, followed by a quick Management Meeting. The meeting does not last longer than 30 minutes and covers the previous night’s performance together with the day’s events including any VIP guests travelling. The rest of the day is spent on business meetings and continually ensuring that we make it easier for our guests to do business with us. The work of a General Manager is extremely involved and requires dedication to all departments and ensuring a positive work attitude in view of the many responsibilities assigned to them.
BL: How hard or easy is it for a woman in your role?
CG: Most people within the industry may admit that there are still a greater amount of male General Managers, however there has been a mammoth shift as female general managers are respected for coming through with professionalism, talent, care and a great sense of humour, which is refreshing.
BL: Do you think the corporate world is doing enough to bring more women to leadership positions?
CG: I believe that although stats may prove that most higher management positions are still dominated by men, there is a significant change within the industry, slow… albeit still a change to mention.
BL: As a working woman, how do you juggle the home and the office?
CG: I have never been a believer of finding a balance with home and office as I don’t think that this exists. However, I must mention that having a great, mutually understanding family structure makes it easier to concentrate on both home and office, separately.
BL: What would be your advice to other women, who are coming up the ranks?
CG: Beyond the passion, you need to be committed and focused on the end result and to always remain humble and grateful for life’s experiences and blessings.